Today is my birthday.
I've been thinking about birthdays a lot lately. I'm very conflicted about them. I'm inclined to hate them but not because I'm getting older, although, frankly, when I think about my age, how far I've come, how far I've got to go, and what I haven't done yet that I thought I would have by now I definitely freak. My thinking isn't a kind of freaking out though. It's an introspective assessment of self which isn't all that comfortable. Who am I? Am I on the right path? Is this what I'm meant to do with my life?
The reason I hate my birthday is that it is generally one of the worst days of my year in terms of things that go wrong. Last year it was my last lesson with a horrific teacher who did nothing but tell me what a bad musician I was. Glass half full, it was my last lesson. Glass half empty, I still had to sit for an hour and listen to someone tell me how I wasn't living up to my potential on my birthday. The year before that I was sicker than a dog, and was for most of the holiday weekend. I had to drive nine hours back to school while I was pretty sure my head was going to explode. The year before that I turned 21, and I also spent the whole thing in a car with my mother (same nine hour trip), who I love, but let's face it. Is that really where I wanted to be on my birthday? I never did get that quitessential 21st birthday with the big party and the booze and the freedom to get drunk and know that people are watching out for you. The year before that... I can't remember. But there was the year in high school where none of my friends, my closest friends, the ones I've known since preschool even bothered to say, "Happy Birthday" to me, and it wasn't because they were throwing a surprise party either.
And then there's the fact that my mother always asks me what I want for my birthday and Christmas, but I never get anything that was on my list. Last year, the dining table. This year a coffee table. I'd rather have had Ratatouille on DVD. Or the Le Crueset dutch oven I asked for. And you reach a point in your life where the things you really want aren't something your mom can go out to Target and get you. Health. Happiness. Success. Love.
And then I have to share my bithday always, with my dad and my brother's girlfriend and even with other friends (which I don't mind because then we can have a big party together, or at least try. That year I turned 21 three of us tried to have a party together because we were all turning 21 but then one of us decided not to show up and watch movies with her boyfriend instead, and the whole thing degenerated from there and was mostly just embarassing.)
Now I sound like I'm whining. I'm trying not to, really. Because at 24, you'd think I'd be over this whole "it's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to" thing. And I'm not writing this for sympathy, though I wouldn't turn down a "happy birthday." I've just sort of stopped hoping for someone to throw me a party or for someone to take me out for a drink. I'm waiting for the universe to drop the other shoe on my birthday this year. So far, nothing heinous is planned, except for Tuesdays being the longest day of my week. I'm not sick, I'm not turning 21, I have a lesson tomorrow but with a nice, sympathetic teacher, I'm not driving cross country. But really, I just want someone to show up with Ratatouille and a box of chocolates tomorrow. Because it's not the same when you buy them for yourself.
I approach this birthday with trepidation, one foot out the door, ready to escape should the universe decide that 24 isn't my year either. And, really? Is this who I want to be? A person who is expecting to be hurt? A person with an escape plan?
So happy birthday, me. May this year be better than the last.